The Paradox of Systems Development Management

As Systems Development Manager you may often have to say something to your staff and superiors and so something just the opposite in practice. For instance, as a manager you claim to be inclined to standardization in the work effort of your employees, but as soon as the push comes, standards are thrown out the window. On the one hand you look for interchangeable workers who are capable of picking up after some other workers leave off, but on the other hand, you are not keen to train the workers to a consistent skill level.


On the one hand, you are aware of the importance of upfront work in systems design but on the other hand, you encourage your employees to rush to coding rather than pondering over the problem. And this is because rather than systems analysis, programming is a lot more tangible task providing evidence to the end-user of the progress of a project. Similarly, on the one hand, as a manager you promise to implement projects within budget and on time, but this seldom occurs as on the other hand, project management is implemented superficially in your organization. On the one hand, you want quality workmanship but on the other hand, you are not willing to implement a quality environment by imposing the required discipline, organization and accountability. Therefore, in order to survive in the corporate world of today, you say something to your superiors and staff and do something totally different in practice. But this should not be the approach.


But there cannot be such dichotomy in systems development process and you need to take a stand and implement accordingly. You have basically two alternatives: the tool-oriented approach or pill” approach and the management-oriented approach.


The tool-oriented approach for problem solving means using a variety of tools to address various aspects of the development process and you can do it easily by using various designs, programming languages and data base techniques. On the other hand, the management-oriented approach requires structure, responsibility and discipline and establishment of a professional attitude among the staff so that a system can be viewed as a product and can be manufactured and engineered like any other product.


As a person who is managing systems development, you need to be skilled in the management fundamentals and not intimidated by technology. The manager needs to have a more global view of systems. One thing we need to remember that some of the best systems development managers were those who came up without any computer background but they came from a user area and were not baffled by the latest technical jargon. These people had a realistic approach and they were results oriented. They implemented a management environment which was perfect for the standardization and consistent application of concepts and development terminology.


But unfortunately, the development managers of today are the opposite of what mentioned above. If you ask for a choice to make in between quality and speed, then they will always go with speed. But as a manager you need to keep one thing in mind that you can have both of them, without sacrificing either and to achieve that what you need is proficiency in management. It is the high time for systems development managers to work for their departments and start behaving more like a manager.


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